Leatt C-Frame Knee Braces

Vital Rating: (OK)
Views:
Create New Tag

Compare to other Knee Protection

Tested: Leatt C-Frame Knee Braces

Rating: Vital Review

Growing up racing, I was lucky enough to have parents that kept me in the best safety equipment possible. Because of this, I've been in knee braces since I was finally big enough to jump in to Asterisk's smallest knee brace, the Cell. Since then, I've never thought about running without them, especially after forgetting my braces one day and trying to ride without them. The downside to Asterisk's original Cell knee brace was its extreme bulk. Because of this, I'm always seeking a thinner profile brace, but without sacrificing the safety aspect. Thus my interest in Leatt's entry into the market, the C-Frame.

Leatt C-Frame Knee Read More »

Growing up racing, I was lucky enough to have parents that kept me in the best safety equipment possible. Because of this, I've been in knee braces since I was finally big enough to jump in to Asterisk's smallest knee brace, the Cell. Since then, I've never thought about running without them, especially after forgetting my braces one day and trying to ride without them. The downside to Asterisk's original Cell knee brace was its extreme bulk. Because of this, I'm always seeking a thinner profile brace, but without sacrificing the safety aspect. Thus my interest in Leatt's entry into the market, the C-Frame.

Leatt C-Frame Knee Brace Features:

  • Mono-hinge located on the outside of each brace.
  • Carbon frame is designed to break away before the average force required to break a bone.
  • Thigh and calf straps use a X pattern for more even coverage.
  • Adjustable knee lockouts to prevent hyper-extension for those with pre-existing knee problems.
  • CE impact certified.
  • Sold in pairs.
  • MSRP: $599.00.

Many of the terms about the C-Frame's design are a bit difficult for me to explain. So for a bit more insight on what they mean, check out this video from Leatt.

First Impressions

Right off the bat, the C-Frames are noticeably different from any knee braces I've seen before, as they only have a hinge on one side! Leatt had a few bio-mechanical reasons for this design; plus the fact that there's less between your inner knee and the bike. Beyond that, the braces utilize a double hinge/reel system, instead of relying on a single hinge. This gives the C-Frame a flex pattern that's much more natural and similar to the travel of your own knee.

A big plus is the adjustable width in the upper frame. Typically knee brace fit has been a struggle for me, as I have quite the muscular upper legs. Even loose jeans look like skinny jeans on me. The ability to loosen two bolts and expand the the width of the upper frame massively helped me and made the C-Frame much more comfortable to wear. The strap design that Leatt uses also plays a big part in the comfort and fit. The straps use an X pattern which spreads the load more evenly across your legs and helps eliminate binding. They also use a very thin velcro strip on the end of each strap, which keeps the straps from catching on your pants and undoing the straps when getting dressed. The couplers that attach the straps to the frame are all on hinges as well, which allows them to work with different sizes and shapes of legs.

On the Track

Once out and about, I was really happy to have a more direct feel with the bike, largely due to the lack of an inside hinge. Also, the mono-hinge's reel system allowed the brace to move more naturally than any other braces I've tried. The padding of the braces are quite comfortable and the amount of adjustment left the braces without any pressure points or discomfort while I was putting in laps.

But as the laps wore on, I ran into a few problems. Most notably, the braces aren't the easiest to keep up. The straps didn't seem to have much in the way of traction, so every time my leg muscles would relax and contract a bit, the braces would slip down immediately. To combat this, I ended up cranking down the top buckles of my boots to a near uncomfortable level. The design and shape of some boots seemed to work with them better than others. Such as the Fox Instincts, which could be left a bit looser than than the Alpinestar Tech 10s that I also tested the C-Frames with. Another problem I had with the braces coming loose came from the fact that the top buckle on each brace would pop open occasionally while out on the track.

Although I was originally pumped on the lack of the inside hinge, it also brought up another problem. The portion of the upper brace that the inside of your knee presses against just ends and leaves an area that catches on the shrouds when you're hugging the bike tight between your legs. This became the most apparent when sitting down with your leg out when entering corners. As I'd sit, the brace would catch the top of the shrouds and try to pull them up my leg a bit, along with upsetting my movement on the bike.

Long-Term Durability

The hinge and main sections of the frame have held up quite well, but I have had some other problems with the brace. During a small fall in a corner, one of the strap loops broke and released the strap. However, the straps themselves have held up quite well, without fraying or any loss of grip from the velcro. Beyond that, I also had a problem with the "handlebar protectors" (thin, white plastic strips between the patella cup and main frame sections) coming off, and eventually breaking one of the pins that latched it to the frame.

The Last Word

This product is interesting. I really do like the theory and design of just using an outer hinge and allowing you to grip the bike more naturally, this along with all the safety features that Leatt brought to the table. Plus the comfort of the padding and where it sits and pushes on your leg is possibly the best of any brace I've tested. Sadly, the execution just isn't quite there with the rest of the brace, and I feel that the C-Frame needs a bit of improvement. Between the braces catching on the shrouds, the struggle in dialing in the fit, and some of the parts that weren't well thought out, these braces lost me and found the shelf more often than the gear bag. Overall, it can be really hard to get used to these braces if you've worn a more typical knee brace but could be a great option for someone who hasn't jumped into the knee brace market yet. The C-Frame's rating reflects the struggles I had with it, and I would hope to see some things change on the brace, because as I stated above I really like the concept.

Vital MX Rating

Check out Leatt.com for more information on the C-Frame and their expanding range of moto protection.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

Rate review: +1 Up Down
Vital MX member ML512
13480 ML512 http://p.vitalmx.com/photos/users/13480/avatar/c50_profile_1424660203.jpg?1424659234 http://www.vitalmx.com/community/ML512,13480/all 12/28/08 356 50 1929 462 http://www.vitalmx.com/community/ML512,13480/setup 345 7871 1 502 85 25

Specifications

Product Leatt C-Frame Knee Braces
Type
Construction
Miscellaneous
Price $599
More Info